Adolf, you are a seasoned healer here in Ubud – with qualifications in science and alternative modalities, 40 years’ in practice, and a decade in Bali, how would you describe what you do?
We are at a very important junction in History. The heavy, restricting western ideas of reality are crumbling, opening up to what more indigenous cultures have known and worked with for a long time. This is affecting big systems, like nations, banks, the environment, the workplace – and it is affecting many of us personally, expressing as illness, fear, anxiety, conflict and seeking.
Many of us come from cultures where our ancestors, who knew how to work with energy and subtle medicine were labelled as witches, and charlatans. Many were shamed, burned, murdered and treated in gruesome ways to stamp out all avenues to holistic thinking.
We have inherited a world where this is changing. This rigid, tight system is breaking down. Suppressed knowledge, human talents, creativity, inspiration - the light bodies in many of us - are waking up again and demanding integration.
This process of recovery, this re-emergence of a part of us that was damaged or repressed can be messy. It can hurt. It can look like sickness. There is very little guidance in western society about how to manage this process, this transformation, let alone how to use the wisdom that comes with it. That’s holistic medicine. That’s where gatekeepers work. That’s what I do.
On a practical level, how does that look day-to-day in your treatment room?
I have a very wide scope of practice. Because of my background in structural medicine from the United States, I treat a lot of musculoskeletal pain patterns. My main modality for this is Craniosacral Therapy. I also diagnose digestive, endocrine and stress-related disorders with Applied Kinesiology, and often see a correlation with the musculo-skeletal pain.
Because the fascia is directly connected to the autonomic nervous system (source of the “fight or flight” mechanism), accessing and working at this level is very powerful for releasing stress and trauma from the body. Fascia is also the ground substance for the energy body, so by releasing fascial blockages, one can treat the entire system; mental, emotional and spiritual.
You’ve had quite a life journey of your own. You had non-spiritual upbringing by academics and a life-long battle with illness – how has this shaped your work?
My life has been a series of deep struggles around health and about who I am. Some people are just given health – that’s easy for them, it is their normal. It wasn’t for me. It is something I have to work at, and struggle with all the time. I have psoriatic arthritis, so I have a severe skin condition and an arthritic condition that have challenged me in many ways.
Another thing I had to accept was that people in a more western, rational paradigm would think I was crazy if I followed the intuitive healing systems I was strongly drawn to. I was ok with that. I decided to explore anyway.
Has illness been, in any way, a doorway for you – an opportunity?
Yes. It’s absolutely that way. Dealing with my own process has given me a lot of insight to other people’s journeys, and a deeper understanding and compassion for what it is like to go through rites of passage around health, pain, and suffering.
You are skilled in Acupuncture, Kinesiology, Craniosacral Therapy and Qi Gong, and you also have Doctoral qualifications in anatomy and structural medicine from the United States – do these work together?
Science is, and has always been one of my great passions. Both of my parents were Doctoral scientists, so I was raised to have a very scientific mind, but I also had a naturally intuitive mind. In my case this was a struggle, but it has been a great blessing, and the key to what I am able to share now.
I have crafted and sculpted my life’s work to reflect these two approaches and aspects of myself; to combine them usefully together. So I can talk about the western approach to function and structure, the scientific approach, and I can talk about energy – the Oriental view, and the shamanic view - and I see how there is an integration between them; the holistic approach, that is so essential now.
What do you mean by ‘energy’?
In Chinese medicine, they define energy as Qi. In yoga it is called prana – life force energy. We can feel that energy, it’s natural to us. The amount of energy we have, its quality, balance and harmonious flow to a certain extent, determines our health.
Western medicine is moving towards remembering, widening its capacity to include a more Eastern, energetic approach, and in the East they are combining the science of medicine with their own traditional and energetic approach. Medicine is moving toward what people like me and my colleagues offer – we are standing in a doorway, bridging this movement.
I am one of the people, at this time, who is building the bridge between the scientific and the energetic, which many of us know is inevitable, and useful, even vital.
Is this energy we generate, or that we take from the environment?
Well, both. We absorb energy from our environment through food, breath, environment, activities … and our body also generates energy, so it is a cyclic process.
Are your roots in science, modern medicine useful to you as a healer in Ubud?
Western medicine has a profound amount to offer in its areas of excellence, and I apply much of that. But what is has forgotten, what it overlooks, is very important to overall health, to the real core of the life story. It’s nothing new to the west, Socrates referred to it, Plato referred to it. The Greek word was pneuma – this concept of the subtle aspect of life, the breath, the ether. They knew, and their medicine was actually founded on the knowledge, that there is an energetic aspect to our being. But the analytical, reductionist philosophy predominated, and the west lost so much of its wisdom as society. Thinking narrowed to a purely scientific idea of what a human being is, and forgot about the energetic.
I teach a workshop called Awakening the Light Body. The basic premise is that we are spiritual beings of light and energy living in a physical body, but somebody forgot to tell us!
Can an illness actually help a person in their life story?
For many of us the changes are tough. They show up as illness, suffering, anxiety, confusion – I have lived a lifetime of this myself, and I have found that very often life gives us a problem, sometimes a serious one, in order to help us move, grow, make a rite of passage.
As a practitioner, when somebody walks in to see you, how does the process of assisting them actually begin? What do you see?
It’s not so much what I see, as what I feel. Some people are able to see energy, but I am more kinesthetically intuitive. That means I can feel energy, and my ability to feel this energy, interpret it and feed it back to the patient in a constructive way is, I think it is a very valuable piece of my practice.
Many of us come from cultures where there are pandemics of mental health problems that are often handled with medication or psychotherapy – but what you are saying is that there are other ways?
In Applied Kinesiology we have a conceptual construct called the “Triad of Health”, which is foundational to my work. It’s a symbol of a triangle that shows health with three planes; electro-magnetic, structural and chemical, with lines connecting all these points. So any pathology or illness or imbalance or problem that a person experiences could originate in any of those areas, and any of those areas could affect the others.
How can you tell where the true root of a problem is then?
I use Applied Kinesiology to ask the body’s innate intelligence what’s going on in the being. It is a powerful diagnostic tool.
How often do you see people whose illnesses or problems turn out to be energetic?
Very often. This goes back to this massive awakening process going on everywhere.
In shamanism there is what they call a shamanic illness – it’s the way a person sometimes makes a transformation – not through seeing the light, or being blessed with some sort of grace, but through this deep path of illness, suffering, change.
How does that show up in people who come to see you?
Oh, it is so common, and some people have really struggled a long time to be seen for what they really are. They are sick, they might have physical pain, skin conditions, troubled emotions. They say things like, “I feel stuff that I don’t know what to do with.” Or “I have anxiety and I don’t know what it’s about.” “I can’t deal with crowds.” “I can’t tell anymore what are my emotions and what are other people’s.” These people are often processing thoughts, issues, or problems for others.
How does a spiritual awakening look?
Ha! (laughs) Well, it can be quite a mess.
Some people come already knowing they want to get in to yoga, say, or change their diet, change their lives, find ways to resolve deep issues or dreams. Many of these people are abandoning corporate jobs, jumping ship from the party line of having to work 12 hours a day in a cubicle for some sort of organization, and following their intuition, becoming creatives, independent, artists and entrepreneurs.
There are others who are sick, who are exhausted, who have chronic illness, pain, depression, anxiety, digestive problems, conditions they haven’t been able to heal – they too are often having spiritual awakenings – it’s just that their journey is sometimes tougher.
You have been practicing in Ubud 10 years now, has the island influenced your work?
I feel very blessed to have to have a practice in Ubud because this place, from ancient times, has been recognized as a centre for healing.
Do you think it still holds that sort of power?
Absolutely! Ubud is a true vortex. What that means is that people come here from all over the world who are either on, or are seeking a spiritual path. Somehow the place pulls them in like magnets.
Either consciously or not, they are drawn here – this place is like a candle for people who’s lives are changing, who seek change, or desperately need it.
Some know they are here for help, guidance, healing, integration, and some find that out once their journey begins.
The interesting thing is that transformation doesn’t always come by choice, and that is part of the magic and power of Ubud. I see people every week who came here thinking their Bali trip was a holiday, but end up discovering they are actually on a major life-changing journey.
What is Craniosacral Therapy?
Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle, but powerful hands-on healing system based on the subtle movement of the cranial bones and sacrum in response to the pumping of cerebrospinal fluid. CST is excellent for treating chronic injuries, emotional holding patterns, chakra balance and spiritual integration. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system and allows the client to go into a deep, body-centered meditation where profound healing can occur. Done through gentle touch, it facilitates the unwinding of deep facia structures. Facia is a whole body integrated tissue that holds body memory of trauma, conditioning and stress. By releasing fascia patterns, movement is restored, relief of pain, emotions are cleared and the nervous system is reset.
What is Applied Kinesiology?
Applied Kinesiology (AK) is a diagnostic system based on muscle testing that enables the practitioner to ask questions to the body's intuition. AK is excellent for finding the causes of chronic pain patterns, digestive problems and immune dysfunction often missed by Western Medicine. Though AK, we can test for food allergies and intolerances, infections, chemical toxicities and nutritional deficiencies. With AK we can identify muscles which are not firing and why, enabling the practitioner to rebalance the musculoskeletal system by “turning on” the muscles that are not firing. AK is a must for yogis, dancers and athletes who are pushing their bodies to achieve maximal flexibility, strength and stability.
Adolf is regularly giving sessions at the Yoga Barn in Ubud. If you would like to book an appointment, please contact the Yoga Barn reception via firstname.lastname@example.org or call on +62361 971 236 or +62361 971 407.